Stuck on the Tarmac? Not Anymore!

Latest DOT Data Proves 3 HOUR Tarmac Rule a Resounding Success for Passengers

Napa, CA– According to figures released today from the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report for July, the number of flights with delays of more than three hours has dropped an astonishing 98% from a year earlier. The report also found that the period May – June of 2009, there were a total of 463 tarmac delays of over 3 hours at American airports. In the same period for May-July of 2010 that figure dropped to only 7 tarmac delays.

“FlyersRights.org is thrilled with the success of the Tarmac Delay Rule, and continues to seek further protections for the flying public through the next DOT rulemaking International flights being included in the 3 hour rule, transparency of unbundled fees, and many more issues.” said Kate Hanni, founder and spokesman for the flier advocacy group. “We are gratified to see our efforts benefitting the flying public and will continue to support additional protections for the consumer.”

In the three months since the Tarmac Delay Rule was implemented by the Department of Transportation in May 2010, the eighteen domestic airline carriers that file performance data with the DOT report that only American Eagle Airlines registered a total of three flights that were stranded longer than the three-hour limit. On July 23rd, three American Eagle flights originating from Chicago were forced to wait on the runway due to severe thunderstorms in the area. Those flights were ultimately cancelled due to the weather.

The new tarmac delay rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. Ray LaHood, Secretary of the Department of Transportation, put the popular new rule into place earlier this year in response to public outrage over several highly publicized incidents where flights were delayed sometimes more than 10 hours before passengers were released.

In spite of fierce opposition from the airlines and dire predictions of rampant cancellations due to the new rule, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows only a slight increase in cancelled flights.

The drop in tarmac delays was not entirely unexpected since the airlines could be subjected to severe monetary penalties for exceeding the three-hour limitation imposed. But the size of the reduction caught many industry analysts by surprise.

FlyersRights.org is the largest, non-profit, airline passengers rights group in the country with 30,000 members. Contact Kate@flyersrights.org for info or (707) 337-0328

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